Review: Cold Blood (Canadian Stage)

Cold Blood“Absolutely fabulous” Cold Blood tackles death, on stage in Toronto

I had high hopes for Cold Blood, which opened Wednesday at the Bluma Appel Theatre. I saw Kiss and Cry in 2014 and absolutely loved it. I wasn’t disappointed; Cold Blood is a wonderful marriage of dance and film.

Created by Belgian choreographer Michèle Anne De Mey, Belgian filmmaker Jaco Van Dormael, and the Collectif Kiss and Cry, with a script by Thomas Gunzig, De Mey, and Van Dormael, Cold Blood feels almost like a dream. It’s surreal, sometimes bizarre, funny, and sensual. Continue reading Review: Cold Blood (Canadian Stage)

Review: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Scarborough Music Theatre)

SMT Spelling Bee“Dynamic” spelling bee musical impresses in Toronto at the Scarborough Village Theatre

Can you spell “capybara” or “boanthropy”? You’ll have them down pat after watching The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Scarborough Village Theatre. And no need to bring a dictionary–you’ll get lots of definitions of obscure words throughout this charming performance.

Continue reading Review: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Scarborough Music Theatre)

Cheap Theatre in Toronto the Week of February 8th, 2016

Five Shows Under $25 in Toronto this Week

This week, I’m determined to help you get a date–or at least treat a good friend right. All of the picks are romantic or deal with romantic entanglements, be they tragic or comic or somewhere in between. We’ve got cabarets, variety shows and adaptations of classic literature on call here, so pick your poison under the cut and treat yourself with some financially reasonable theatre. Continue reading Cheap Theatre in Toronto the Week of February 8th, 2016

Review: A Mickey Full of Mouse (Red Sandcastle Theatre)

mickeyA Mickey Full of Mouse opened in the Red Sandcastle Theatre. A map drawn out in chalk is on the set wall, showing the passage through the United States, with Florida as the ultimate destination. Dawna Wightman moves around the stage, sweeping the floor with a janitor’s broom. She sings to herself, blocking out the audience in front of her. As we know with most Disney productions, a song is just the beginning of the story.

A Mickey Full of Mouse, written by Dawna Wightman and directed by Josh Downing, describes itself as a comedy about a trip to Walt Disney World with an alcoholic. Anna, played by Laura Kyswaty, meets up with her old friend Margaret, who shows her a magical snowglobe. When the snowglobe is used three times, the holder is transported to a childhood memory, and must live through the memory to return. The memory brings Anna and Margaret to the summer where they went on a impromptu roadtrip that took them to Walt Disney World.
Continue reading Review: A Mickey Full of Mouse (Red Sandcastle Theatre)

Playlistings in Toronto for the Week of February 8th

Shows That Caught Our Eye in Toronto the Week of February 8th, 2015

Review: Cowboy Versus Samurai (Soulpepper)

Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre presents the searing, political comedy Cowboy Versus Samurai

Soulpepper has had a lot of success staging updated adaptations of classic plays so who better to mount a production of Cowboy Versus Samurai, American playwright Michael Golamco’s hilarious, clever, edgy and political adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s classic play Cyrano de Bergerac? Cyrano, the man with the poet’s flair and famously large nose, believed that his ugliness denied him the dream of being loved. But for Travis, the protagonist in Cowboy Versus Samurai it’s not a giant nose that renders him unloveable it’s his race. Continue reading Review: Cowboy Versus Samurai (Soulpepper)

Review: Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation (Royal Winnipeg Ballet)

going home starRoyal Winnipeg Ballet takes on the legacy of the residential school system in Going Home Star

It was an intense evening at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts last night for the opening of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Toronto leg of their Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation tour. The strength of the RWB dancers and their dedication to telling this story, the story of residential schools and the terrible mark they’ve left on the Indigenous community, make this ballet one of the most powerful and necessary dance productions I have seen in a while. Continue reading Review: Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation (Royal Winnipeg Ballet)

Review: The Marriage of Figaro (Canadian Opera Company)

(l-r) Erin Wall as the Countess, Emily Fons as Cherubino and Jane Archibald as Susanna in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of The Marriage of Figaro, 2016. Conductor Johannes Debus, director Claus Guth, set and costume designer Christian Schmidt, lighting designer Olaf Winter, video designer Andi A. Müller, and choreographer Ramses Sigl. Photo: Michael CooperThe Canadian Opera Company presents Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in Toronto

There are two reasons that The Canadian Opera Company and I get along so well: fashion and spectacle. I enjoy and appreciate the COC in its daring displays, its peacockery and preening; from the fashion-infused annual gala to the richly appointed productions well-stocked with talent and excitement.

It’s hard to say that this production of The Marriage of Figaro, directed by Claus Guth, was disappointing, that seems unfair – everyone involved was certainly talented and turned in a solid performance. The set was fine, as were the costumes and the lighting. The orchestra sounded pretty good, and so on. But at the opera, I expect to be stirred (especially at 3.5 hours long). I expect to be moved out of thinking “this staging is interesting” and into delight, or despair, or the difficult recognition of universal truth. This Figaro felt like the taupe raincoat that Figaro himself wears in the opening scene of this staging: perfectly serviceable and quite practical.

Continue reading Review: The Marriage of Figaro (Canadian Opera Company)

Review: Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen (Theatre 20, Theatre Passe Muraille, The Firehall Arts Centre)

Chelsea HotelThe songbook of Leonard Cohen comes to the Toronto stage

It’s not unusual that I don’t know what to expect when I go to see a show, so it’s no surprise that I didn’t know much about Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen, which opened on Thursday at Theatre Passe Muraille.

It is unusual that after seeing the show, I still can’t really say exactly what it was. It’s passionate, moving, melancholy, ethereal, rowdy, haunting, sexy, and funny. It’s circus-like (Cirque de Soleil, not Ringling Brothers). There’s a narrative thread but it isn’t a musical. It’s not a cabaret.

It’s theatre. I really enjoyed it. Continue reading Review: Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen (Theatre 20, Theatre Passe Muraille, The Firehall Arts Centre)